Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Girl of Nightmares - Review

   Girl of Nightmares (Anna, #2)
by Kendare Blake

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal/Urban Fantasy 
Hardcover - 332pgs.
Published - August 2012
Series: Anna #2 (Final Book) 

It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears. Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.

When I learned there was a sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood, I was a little confused. I loved the first book but at the end of the first book it felt like a lot of this story was wrapped up and finished.  I might have forgotten some points though because I read it last summer. Even so, I was happy to jump back into this story and see what Cas and his friends were up to.

I was pleasantly surprised with where this book went. I was thrilled to see how much potential Blake built into this story. There was more information about the athame, Cas's family and the lore behind Cas's job. I felt like she really built up the world and expanded the supernatural elements of the book which was really awesome except this is the end of the series. In some ways I could see Cas and his friends hunting ghosts for several more books, but in the end I realized this is Cas and Anna's story which Blake does a wonderful job of wrapping up in this book. Even though I'm disappointed that this awesome story is over, I was completely happy with the ending of this duology. I thought it was appropriate and it works for the world and characters that Blake created. The ending felt complete and final which made it easier not to pine for more (even though I still am...)

I really enjoyed the characters in these two books as well. Cas and his friends have realistic struggles in this paranormal story. Obviously they are looking for Anna, but at times the three of them struggle with the weight of keeping part of their lives secret from the rest of the world. The dynamics between the three freinds is excellent. I loved how Cas is a fish out of water sometimes with his friends because he isn't used to having long lasting friendships. The conflicts and problems that this friend group had throughout the book felt right and like a natural thing that would happen which is always nice. There is some repetitiveness throughout the book and sometimes I wanted things to move forward faster because much of the first half of the book is Cas and everyone else thinking he is crazy. However, the pace really picks up after Cas decides he is going to find Anna even though it is dangerous for him and his friends.

I'll be honest and admit that part of the reason I love this book so much is because it reminds me of a teenage version of Supernatural. I love all the ghost hunting and suspenseful scenes that are built in. I really enjoyed the minimal romance in this book. Even though there are romantic elements to this story that are essential to Cas's motivation to find Anna, Cas is worried about and balances many other things than just romance in the book. He isn't just some love sick boy looking for his girlfriend and thank goodness for no love triangle!

Something about the writing I loved from the first book which carried over to this one was the balance between horror and humor. There are some very dark and gory parts to this story that the author describes vividly. Sometimes when Cas sees Anna suffering its not pretty and Blake doesn't shy away from descriptions, but we know that from the first book in this series, where several people are brutally murdered and nasty looking ghosts are a frequent occurrence. Blake keeps the dark in check with humorous lines and witty characters. This balancing act in her writing kept the pace moving and kept the tone of the story lighter throughout the book.

I really liked this ending to this  series and I absolutely can't wait to pick up something else by Kendare Balke. She is quickly becoming one of my favorites even though I've only read two books by her.

Rating: 4/5

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